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Archive for the month “November, 2015”

Leaving Me Lonely Still

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of a song and totally related to the singers feelings? Those songs are the deep meaning emotional songs I enjoy so much.  They are the songs that you say “I feel exactly the same way that they do!”  If the emotion is loneliness perhaps I am not quite so lonely.  There is comfort knowing that someone else has the same kind of feelings that I do.  Maybe the song is so powerful that it brings tears to my eyes as the lyrics pierce into my heart.  Neil Diamond had a song he wrote over a long period of time in his hotel room.  The song was named “I Am I Said”, and from it’s popularity it is obvious that he struck a chord as to how countless people feel.  It speaks of a lonely feeling that grips deep inside.

During a lifetime it is perfectly natural to go through seasons of feelings and emotions.  We have all experienced extreme highs and lows if we have lived long enough.  It is normal for us most of the time to live on an even keel with an occasional swing from one end or the other.  There are times when we have extreme emotional highs.  Maybe everything seems to be going our way and the world is a great place.  Sometimes something very good happens that causes such elation it takes days to come off of the mountain.  Sooner or later though we invariably slide off of that peak.  After an emotional high it is not unusual to have a very emotional low.  That was the case for Chris Evert the famous tennis player after she won a major tournament at a young age.  “When I won Wimbledon in 1976,” she recalls, “I beat Evonne Goolagong in three tough sets, went home to an empty hotel room and was depressed an hour after the match.

It’s easy to think that these famous people we see so frequently haven’t a care in the world.  How often do we think “That person really has it made!”  What we fail to realize is that these celebraties are people too.  They have the same problems (and maybe even more) than you and I.  Bad things can happen to them too.  They get depressed just like we do.  Neil Diamond is telling us a story about himself.  It relates to so many people because in some way it is their story too.  For whatever reason he is very unsatisfied and not at peace with himself.  He has lived on that emotional mountain top where everyone has told him how great he is.  Living up there in the adulation of people is such a high that it is addicting.  Something happened that made him reflect on his purpose.  He had tried out for a part as Lenny Bruce the controversial comedian.  He didn’t get the part and for whatever reason he crashed into a funk and his emotions came out in his song “I Am I Said.”

I Am… I Said Lyrics
Neil Diamond

L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is “lay back”
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin’ about
Making my way back

What Neil seems to be saying in his initial wording is that physically he is in a good place.  The sun is shining and he is comfortable.  His financial situation is good and he had economical living.  It doesn’t seem to coincide with his desire to make his way back.

Well I’m New York City born and raised
But nowadays
I’m lost between two shores
L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home
New York’s home
But it ain’t mine no more

Now we see the true picture.  He is feeling low because he doesn’t feel he has a home.  With all of his fame and fortune he realizes that there is something missing.  He has surrendered a base as a price for his fame. Is this really where the root of his feelings are or is it what he thinks is the problem? It may be something gnawing within him that he hopes will be solved by moving.

“I am”… I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

It seems that he states “I am” as a cry out.  He seems to be wondering if anybody really cares that he exists.  Sure there are many people who seem to care but when it gets right down to it he is sitting in his room alone.  How many times have we talked to ourselves in such times?  That is exactly what he is doing and the echoes of his own voice tell him that he is all alone.  The chair seems to represent the people who seem to care so much about him and yet they are only there as a symbol in his mind.

“I am”… I cried “I am”… said I
And I am lost and I can’t
Even say why
Leavin’ me lonely still

I am lost and I can’t even say why can be pretty typical.  Something isn’t right and you know in your spirit that it isn’t and yet you can’t pinpoint the problem.  When you sink into the depth of despair like he did it is hard to find your way out.  It’s hard to solve a problem when you can’t diagnose the problem that you have.

Did you ever read about a frog
Who dreamed of bein’ a king
And then became one
Well except for the names
And a few other changes
If you talk about me
The story’s the same one

Now he is talking about starting out as a nobody and having his wildest dreams come true!  It is the all American dream of fame and riches that he never expected.  The world sees him as happy and content but he has a different story.

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I’ve tried
But it won’t let me go
And I’m not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared
For the sound of being alone

Even though he had everything in the worlds view that should make him happy he is miserable as he laments about the emptiness deep inside that won’t let him go.  Like all of us there is a little place deep within him that only God can fill.  The Bible talks about this dilemma.   In Mark chapter 8 verse 36 Jesus asks the question “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

“I am”… I cried “I am”… said I
And I am lost and I can’t
Even say why
Leavin’ me lonely still

If you can relate to this song like I can you are not alone.  Millions of people throughout the world love this song because it exemplifies so much of their circumstances.  You don’t have to be lonely.  Wherever you are God can be there too!  He loves you and wants to fill that empty space that only he can!  When you are in the deepest darkest cave know that God is waiting to rescue you.  Whether you are rich or poor, famous or unknown he will not leave you lonely still!

The Cave

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

It’s lonely in the cave tonight,
it’s cold and damp and gray
I’m hungry, thirsty and so run down
I’ll die in here they say

My friends come and see me here
I beg them all to stay
Oh no, they call as they retreat
We know a better way

I’ve blamed the church, the pastors too,
for helping me to fall
I’ve blamed my friends and enemies
Oh Lord, I’ve blamed them all

When I ran out of people
to point my finger at
I pointed up to heaven
He was the dirty rat

But in that cave I cried one day,
Lord if you really are,
how can I feel so forsaken
and why are you so far

Away from me in all my trials
and troubles here below?
My life has no meaning here
I’m empty as you know

I heard the wind a howling
the earth began to shake
I said, Lord are you really real
or is this all a fake?

In all of the commotion
when I thought he could be near,
I waited as it thundered
but my God did not appear

As I sat in that damp, dark, cave
without reason and or rhyme
A still small voice spoke oh so clear,
I was with you all the time

You will on some days stumble
and crawl along the way,
but I will pick you up again
until you’re home to stay

And yes, there will be valleys
that you will wander through,
but take my hand and hold on tight
and I will see you through

Then he took my hand and led me on
right out of that cold place
I looked and there I saw the Son
with a smile upon his face

Now go and tell the world out there
about the place you’ve been
How you’ve been raised from the dead
and brought to life again

Tell them when they die like you
and they’re at the place you’ve been,
I will touch them with my hand
and raise the dead again.

Jesus, once more deeply moved,
came to the tomb. It was a cave
with a stone laid across the entrance.
When he had said this, Jesus called
in a loud voice, “Lazarus come out!”

John 11:38 & 43

 

 

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One Shining Moment!

When the NCAA Basketball Tournament is over the song “One Shining Moment” is played with replays of big plays that perfectly illustrate the songs lyrics.  The gist of the song is that behind the scenes hours of work is done in preparing for that one moment.  It is a moment of total elation as dreams come true and all of the efforts beforehand seem worthwhile.  It is a moment when players feel that somehow it was destiny as they find themselves in the spotlight!  It is just a moment but that moment shines so much it is remembered years later.

One Shining Moment

By David Barrett

The ball is tipped
And there you are
You’re running for your life
You’re a shooting star
And all the years
No one knows
Just how hard you worked
But now it shows…
(in) one shining moment, it’s all on the line
One shining moment, there frozen in time

But time is short
And the road is long
In the blinking of an eye
Ah, that moment’s gone
And when it’s done
Win or lose
You always did your best
Cuz inside you knew…
(that) one shining moment you reached deep inside
One shining moment, you knew you were alive

Feel the beat of your heart
Feel the wind in your face
It’s more than a contest
It’s more than a race…
And when it’s done
Win or lose
You always did your best
Cuz inside you knew…
(that) one shining moment, you reached for the sky
One shining moment, you knew
One shining moment, you were willing to try
One shining moment

Fred Rogers grew up an only child.  As an only child he didn’t always have other kids to play with.  Fred compensated for that with a big imagination.  He would play with his puppets and make up stories.  As he grew into a young man he admired the leader of his church and how he could make his points so clear.  He also admired the fact that everyone respected him for his guidance and direction he gave.

Fred ended up going to school to become a minister.  After college he was intrigued by the new medium TV that was out.  He went to New York and counseled some of the early stars of the medium.  One man in particular said something to him in answer to a question that stayed with him.  It was a man named Gabby Hayes who he asked one day “What are you thinking about when you start talking into the camera?”  Fred was kinda surprised by Gabby’s answer which was “I just pretend that I am talking to just one buckaroo.”  Fred made note of that answer and when he went before the camera years later he pretended he was talking to one young person too!

The Early Years

Things started small for Fred in the new medium.  He started doing puppet shows for the local TV station.  He had to make up characters and named them after people that were important in his life.  Puppets were easy for Fred because he had practiced many hours as a youth.  Never did he realize that all of that practice would be useful to form entertaining shows that kids loved.  He found his calling was in talking to young people and treating them with respect.  Things kept evolving in Fred’s career.  He was asked to do a TV show where he would be on the camera instead of just his puppets.  Fred always found a place for puppets in his show too, but he always distinguished the real from the make believe.

Fred Rogers

In 1968 Fred was given a show on PBS called Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  Fred liked the neighborhood idea because it could be a place kids could go that was different from their neighborhood.  Still it would be an educational place that would teach them good life lessons.  Fred would have little songs that he sang to the camera which were catchy and had good meaning.  He would come on the set singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood won’t you be my neighbor?”  He also sang “It’s such a good feeling to know your alive It’s such a happy feeling your happy inside.”  He made the kids that watched the show happy and gave them a positive role model much like his church minister had given him.

Mr. Rogers was always teaching his young viewers lessons.  Usually the lessons were pretty simple such as learning to tie a shoe or put on a sweater.  As the show evolved he taught them through his puppets about how people react to things and the right and wrong way to think.  He taught his young viewers to respect and love others and to give a helping hand whenever possible.  Usually his lessons were basic and his situations were common.  He had a toy “Neighborhood Trolley Car”  that took the kids into the world of make believe.  It was a world where his puppets took over with life situations.  He wanted to make a clear distinction between what was real and what was make believe.  Seeing the trolley car travel to that place told the kids that the following wasn’t really real.  Although his puppets brought similar situations as those of real life, he felt it was important to differentiate the two.  In 1980 he had a young guest visit the show and the world of make believe was nowhere in sight.  This was a real situation and Mr. Rogers interviewed the young man in a heartfelt way.  Years later he was asked many times which show in all of his years of doing shows was the most memorable? Fred would always bring up the interview he had with Jeff Erlanger.  Along with the simple lessons that he could teach Fred was not afraid to talk about more complex problems such as divorce and handicaps.  His interview with Jeff  was one of those complex lessons.

Jeff Erlanger wheeled himself into Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on a day in 1980.  Jeff was 10 years old and was severely handicapped.  He explained that at 7 months he had a tumor that blocked the nerves that told his hands and legs what to do.  They were unsuccessful in their attempt to remove the tumor and he became handicapped.  Although he was hardly able to move his ability to laugh and to articulate was so remarkable.  Fred asked him questions that led Jeff to expand and tell his story in such a unique way.  The way that Jeff could be so happy even in the midst of his situation was truly a “One Shining Moment” for Fred and he never forgot it!

The years went by and in 1999 Fred Rogers was being honored by being inducted into the TV Hall of Fame.  A clip was played of that moment in 1980 where Jeff came on the show.  You could tell that it was a very moving moment for Rogers as it brought back the wonderful interview that touched so many!  Fred was talking to one buckaroo (Jeff) and yet multitudes of kids he was reaching through TV were getting a great life lesson!  That one clip of a caring Mr. Rogers and a young kid adapting to life was a picture of Fred Roger’s legacy! When the lights came back on the announcer introduced none other than Jeff Erlanger.  Jeff a young man now wheeled himself onto the stage and Fred Rogers had a elated surprised look that is hard to describe.  Only the image on the following video can describe it completely. Quickly Fred made his way to the stage to hug and thank Jeff for being there.  It was a culmination to all of the good that his show had brought and Jeff’s wonderful tribute was a perfect summary!

We should all look for that shining moment that defines what God has put on our hearts to honor him.  It is not a passing thing like a basketball tournament.  It is a real life thing which defines the vision we have been living for.  In Fred’s case he had two!  The time in 1980 when Jeff brought his special personality and smile to Fred’s life and in 1999 when Jeff returned to thank Mr. Rogers for what he meant to him.  Jeff had a very short speech he gave.  To conclude Jeff’s appearance years ago Fred and Jeff sang a song together called “It’s You I Like.”  “When you say it’s you I like, you really mean it.  On behalf of millions of kids and grownups I just want to say “It’s you I like!”, Jeff stated.  I could see on Fred’s face that to Jeff and kids young and old everywhere the feeling was very mutual!

(that) one shining moment, you reached for the sky
One shining moment, you knew
One shining moment, you were willing to try
One shining moment

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me”

Fred Rogers

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